Clinton Portis among six NFL players charged in health care fraud conspiracy

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Six former NFL players were charged on Friday in a superseding indictment in connection with fraudulent charges made to a health care benefit program for retired NFL players.

Clinton Portis, the two-time Pro Bowl running back, is the most notable name in the group. The others are Darrell Reid, Antwan Odom, Anthony Montgomery, Tamarick Vanover and Robert McCune.

All six defendants face charges of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud. Portis, Reid, Odom and Montgomery were also each charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of health care fraud. Vanover was also charged with two counts of wire fraud and two counts of health care fraud. And McCune faces the most serious charges, with 10 counts of wire fraud, 12 counts of health care fraud, and three counts of aggravated identity theft.

Portis, Vanover and McCune had already been charged in 2009 but are now facing additional charges for the alleged fraud, which targed the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Plan. That plan is supposed to help NFL players and their families by giving them tax-free reimbursement for health care costs in retirement, but federal prosecutors say the accused players submitted false and fraudulent claims totaling more than $3 million.

Seven former NFL players have already pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the scheme: Correll Buckhalter, James Butler, Joseph Horn, Etric Pruitt, Ceandris Brown, John Eubanks and Reche Caldwell. Caldwell was shot and killed in June. Brown has been sentenced to a year in prison. The others await sentencing.

Prosecutors say the players defrauded the program by falsely claiming they had purchased expensive medical equipment like hyperbaric oxygen chambers, cryotherapy machines and ultrasound machines and then requesting reimbursement, typically of amounts from $40,000 to $50,000. The players allegedly fabricated documents including invoices and letters of medical necessity.
 
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